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  1. #1
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    Default Mountain Lions in GSMNP

    Apparently there continues to be claims of Mountain Lions in GSMNP.

    While filtering some water during a break at Double Spring Gap shelter, a family of 5 staying at the shelter told a story of being tracked by a mountain lion the night before. I recall that a part of their story included a heap lamp, that they saw the cat's head, and the distance between the cat's eyes indicated it was a huge one... (I think they said they estimated it to be 400lbs?).

    I must admit that my first thoughts are that they some how mistook a deer for a mountain lion... after all, that same night, at Silers Bald shelter, a hiking buddy at first thought he had seen a bear when we saw a pair of eyes reflecting his headlamp... but he quickly figured out it was a deer (something not unusual to see around GSMNP campsites, especially near dusk).

    But I also couldn't totally discount their story as apparently about 10 sighting of mountain lions are reported each year in GSMNP, and there have been some confirmed mountain lion sightings in Tennessee. (From what I recall the last time I read some news stories on the subject, it's believed there are no breeding populations of mountain lions in Tennessee, just the occasional individual cat that has wondered from either out west or Florida).

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    i'll just put it this way-----over ten million visitors to GSMNP every year and not one credible photo has surfaced of a mountain lion in the Park.....

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    Rangers probably file these sightings in the Big Foot folder


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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    i'll just put it this way-----over ten million visitors to GSMNP every year and not one credible photo has surfaced of a mountain lion in the Park.....
    And a large percentage of the ten million probably has a phone capable of taking pictures.

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    And a large percentage of the ten million probably has a phone capable of taking pictures.



    thats my point exactly.....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpburdelljr View Post
    And a large percentage of the ten million probably has a phone capable of taking pictures.
    But mountain lions are generally nocturnal, making it less likely there would be enough light for a phone to capture an image that could be used as a confirmed sighting. Combine that with the fact these cats tend to shy away from humans, and it's even more unlikely a visitor would get a chance to see a mountain lion, much less get a picture one.

  7. #7
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    Yeah, but no breeding population in like 1000 miles. The idea of a cougar hunting a family of five... in woods that are chock-full of deer? Plus, if itís 400 lbs... maybe heís not hungry enough to eat 5 peoples


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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    But mountain lions are generally nocturnal, making it less likely there would be enough light for a phone to capture an image that could be used as a confirmed sighting. Combine that with the fact these cats tend to shy away from humans, and it's even more unlikely a visitor would get a chance to see a mountain lion, much less get a picture one.
    They also leave footprints, and I haven’t heard of any picture of footprints either.

  9. #9

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    A 400 pound cougar would be a freak of nature.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    My good friend in NC, not far from Tennessee but pretty far from GSMNP, swears he saw one in the Grandfather Mountain vicinity. Which could make sense if theres any out there they are staying close to the female mountain lion that they can smell from a distance in the Grandfather Mountain zoo area. He was on a mountain bike and after seeing the presumed mountain lion run out in front of him (with a clear view of the long tail from behind) he came down the hill and saw somebody from the state, a ranger or some sort of environmental worker. Anyway they had a long conversation about mountain lions and not only did this person believe my friend saw one but he started talking about seeing traces himself and how he "knows there out there" ….. but he also said the state will never admit it and "this marks the end of the conversation, there's nothing you or I can do, say or show anybody to get the state of NC to acknowledge the existence of mountain lions."

    you always hear "no picture to prove it" but let's be serious here - what percentage of people are going to try to get a picture in the rare, unexpected and often quick scenario when they actually see one. "No traces of footprints" but that's usually talking about near a trail …. we know they usually avoid humans so not seeing any signs of them when your not venturing far off trails that humans walk daily that undoubtedly stink of human scent to animals.... that's really not saying too much.

    I'm not trying to stir trouble and claim they exist but I still don't believe that dead one in Connecticut came from Montana or whatever they claim …. sure the "food proved it" …. the food that was still in its gut from Montana …. sounds like trying to calm the media.... how did this thing get across the Hudson River, did it swim? hitch a ride? or take a walk across the freeway? ……. they may have said dna proved it but a jury also said OJ is innocent...

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    A 400 pound cougar would be a freak of nature.
    Yeah, I looked it up before I originally posted... Males can grow to around 200 lbs...

    Doesn't disprove it was a cougar... they may be just terrible at estimating size... because apparently the fear was real (they mentioned both the husband and wife had a fun, both drew their weapons, and if I understood correctly, the only reason they didn't shoot was they believed the shelter was beyond the cougar and didn't want to risk hitting other campers).

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpburdelljr View Post
    They also leave footprints, and I haven’t heard of any picture of footprints either.
    The woods are full of bears, but I don't recall having ever seen a bear paw print in GSMNP back country.

    If course I should follow that up with the fact there is no way to prove a negative.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Yeah, I looked it up before I originally posted... Males can grow to around 200 lbs...

    Doesn't disprove it was a cougar... they may be just terrible at estimating size... because apparently the fear was real (they mentioned both the husband and wife had a fun, both drew their weapons, and if I understood correctly, the only reason they didn't shoot was they believed the shelter was beyond the cougar and didn't want to risk hitting other campers).
    Great, scared people with guns who cant tell the difference between a mountain lion and a deer/black bear/raccoon/skunk/squirrel/stray dog??? Fear can add a couple of hundred pounds to any animal in the moment. At least they had enough self control to not start blasting at shadows in the dark. I kept a male lion in captivity in the mid west for a year as part of a study to determine if they should be reintroduced into areas where Whitetail populations have exploded due to declining numbers of hunters, unlimited food and no natural predators. Game Wardens brought the front half of a deer carcass to the enclosure every seven days. After a year of weekly feeding the three year old male weighed 180lbs.
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    The woods are full of bears, but I don't recall having ever seen a bear paw print in GSMNP back country.



    then you haven't been paying attention....

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    ... both the husband and wife had a gun, both drew their weapons, and if I understood correctly, the only reason they didn't shoot was they believed the shelter was beyond the cougar and didn't want to risk hitting other campers).
    So, the illegality of killing animals of any sort in the National Park, ... nor the fact that they had no such hunting license nor the fact it wasn't mountain lion hunting season stopped them, only their alleged good judgment?
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    So, the illegality of killing animals of any sort in the National Park, ... nor the fact that they had no such hunting license nor the fact it wasn't mountain lion hunting season stopped them, only their alleged good judgment?
    "In the case of imminent threat of life and injury", it's not illegal to kill an animal... but that's what bothered me the most about their story... that the words they used make it sound like the only reason they didn't pull the trigger on an animal that seemed to simply be following them was the relative position of them, the cat, and the camp site.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashepabst View Post
    Rangers probably file these sightings in the Big Foot folder

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    I can't speak to specific events, however sighting claims are frequently if not always investigated by State Game Wardens and Park Rangers in the Eastern United States. Tracks, scat, kill-sites, dens or sleeping sites, fur snags, climbing scars are all part of the "look and see" investigations. Though there is not a breeding population in the eastern US, there may be a cougar lurking about in GSMNP, they do get across the Mississippi River on occasion and wander around the eastern forests, however rare it may be.

    At some point cougar will migrate and fill the predation niche that exists in eastern forest areas without apex predators, the question remains when that may be and at what point will evidence support the premise.

  18. #18

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    These animals have been evolving for thousands of years to be as stealthy as possible.

    The problem with humans is that we think we know everything. We are ignorant and our ego's provide a mental block; keeping us from understanding whats really going on around us. We dont know anything, but we think we know everything.

    These animals live in Appalachia. My neighbor frequently drives the FS roads North Ga. He took a photo of a big cat print, took it to the DNR headquarters and asked them to identify the print before telling them where he took the photo. DNR identified the print as mountain lion and proceeded to ask where he took the photo. He told them; about 20 miles from here. They then "changed their minds" about the big cat print and asked him not to post the photos to social media....

    Big cats are not the only large mammals living in these forests that people refuse to recognize. Fear, egos, and money keeps our silly species from coming to grips with reality. Ignorance is bliss I suppose

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    Big cats are not the only large mammals living in these forests that people refuse to recognize.

    Tell us more, don't tease us.
    "It goes to show you never can tell." - Charles Edward Anderson Berry

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Grouse View Post
    Big cats are not the only large mammals living in these forests that people refuse to recognize.

    Tell us more, don't tease us.
    Sasquatch.

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